Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. Today we are pleased to introduce Jerusha Joshua.
Jerusha, tell us about your journey in life and your calling.
I have traveled some distance in my life. My father was the pastor of Carey Baptist Church in Calcutta, when the church celebrated the bicentennial of William Carey’s 1794 arrival to India. There I learned about the struggles of missionaries who brought Christ to me and also brought the Bible to my understanding. I was inspired by the life of Carey, the shoemaker who translated parts of the Bible into forty different Indian languages.
As a family, we had moved from southern to northern India. Life was hard for us. We could not speak the local language. My brother and I fell ill with typhoid and jaundice. In desperation, my mother committed us into God’s hands. We were like Carey, who also experienced many trials, including financial problems, terrible heat, and frequent serious sickness. While my brother and I recovered, Carey’s family was not as fortunate. Several of his children and his wife died, but he did not give up his calling to learn foreign languages and translate scripture.
A decade after that bicentennial celebration, I was a student at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond. My little brother had passed away in a sea accident in India, and I enrolled in summer Greek class in order to give my life structure and my mind focus. I worked very hard and excelled in the class. With new confidence, I studied Hebrew, and soon recognized that I had a flair for biblical languages.. The meaning and potential within God’s Holy Word excited me and continues to inspire me every day!
Where and how are you currently serving in ministry?
I am currently at Chamberlayne Baptist Church in Richmond, serving as the associate minister to children, youth, and families.
Who has inspired you along the way as you have lived out your calling?
My daughter’s life has been my inspiration. While I was striving for perfection, busy with translating biblical languages and filling out applications for Ph.D. programs, my perfect life came to a crashing halt when my only child was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. She was three years old. Having done all things right to my knowledge, I had many questions. I found no answers. Through the entire process of toxic treatment that extended two years, I learned to become comfortable with theological mysteries in the dark of the night: Why do little children suffer? If God knows the future, why does God not reveal it? When I have God the Healer by my side, how much do I trust in science and experimental medical treatment? Most importantly, as people of faith all over the world prayed for my child, God extended healing touch through Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Christian oncologists at the Children’s Hospital, VCU.
During this experience, I longed to become a children’s minister for pediatric cancer taught me the importance of reaching out to young families. I understood the therapeutic effects of faith. With a sense of urgency, I began to serve, realizing that life’s big battles are also fought by children, youth, and young families. The songs that my child learned in Sunday School at the age of two were often sung at crucial moments in the surgery unit; she believed in the simple message “my God is SO BIG, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do,” which preached a powerful message.
What are some of the lessons you have learned along the way as you have followed God’s leadership?
Church work is not easy. Christian discipleship is a call to suffering. It is through the prism of suffering that the multiple facets of Christ’s love shine through, clear and beautiful. God has done his deepest work in me during those moments of doubt and fear. As I have followed God’s leadership, I have learned the importance of trusting God in the process even when my destination is not clear. So . . . Don’t Give Up! Be faithful to the light shown to you. You will find your tribe, filtered through that prism of suffering.
Photo credit: Simply Green Photography